It’s tough to make new friends. When you go to a new school, a new workplace, a new neighbourhood. But if we want to bring God’s love to people, we need to make friends. We need friends. I was just walking home recently and God planted the idea of how to be a pal to someone. My mind started whirring with what being a pal means. What does being a friend really mean?
I want to share with you three simple steps to be a P.A.L. to someone today.
1. The Gift of Presence
First, give people the gift of your presence. Someone once said that, “Showing up is half the battle.” We don’t realise that just being there, our very presence speaks volumes. It says to the other person – “I value you” or “I appreciate your company.” There’s a proverb in the Bible that says:
Never abandon a friend— either yours or your father’s. When disaster strikes, you won’t have to ask your brother for assistance. It’s better to go to a neighbor than to a brother who lives far away.
Prov 27:10 (NLT)
I believe that showing up is so important in life. It’s the most basic gift we can give someone. To be there for them.
But don’t stop there.
2. The Gift of Attention
Secondly, give people the gift of your attention. This is one level higher than giving your presence. You can show up or be there physically but not there mentally, spiritually, emotionally. You’ve checked out mentally already. That’s not much use. When you are there, pay attention to them. Don’t be distracted by your phone, the television or the cute girl at the next table (I’m referring to myself).
Paying attention requires us to pay something. It costs us time, energy and effort to really give total attention to someone. Next time, put away your distractions, tune in to the other person fully and look into their eyes. I love this verse though it’s about shepherding but applies here too:
Know the state of your flocks, and put your heart into caring for your herds…
If you don’t pay attention, you won’t know the state of the person right in front of you. You’ll miss the non-verbal signs and the inner desires. Pay attention.
3. The Gift of Listening
Thirdly, you can give people the gift of listening. You can be there, you can give your complete attention but have zero impact on your friendship if you don’t listen. Listening is top-level stuff.
Listening means to actively listen for the person’s thoughts and feelings. It means rephrasing their thoughts back to them. It means giving verbal affirmations that you’re listening (and not sleeping with your eyes open). It means clarifying if you don’t understand something (I’ve been guilty of saying – “Wow that’s nice” to the wrong situation). Good listening is in major short supply today.
Everyone likes to talk about themselves. Few like to listen. So if you can listen well, you will stand out above the rest. How can you do that? Take your eyes off yourself and fix it on others. The apostle Paul wrote:
Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
Phil 2:4 (NLT)
I am certain that if you give these gifts of presence, attention and listening, you’ll be a pal to others. You’ll build friendships much faster than you expect. Try it today.
Be a P.A.L.